South Shore runner completes ultra race for fourth time
Being a veteran of the Western States Endurance Run served Alan Barichievich well in the 100-mile foot race on Saturday and Sunday.
The South Lake Tahoe ultra runner completed the 100-miler from Squaw Valley USA to Auburn for the fourth time in five attempts.
“It was pretty mellow this year. Everything went really smoothly,” Barichievich, who finished in 25 hours, 46 minutes and 23 seconds and was 147th overall out of the 328 entrants who finished the race. “There was nothing that I encountered that I didn’t expect.”
Outside of running around a stationary opossum at one point and some spent quadriceps muscles toward the finish, Barichievich’s high-elevation trail adventure was somewhat adventureless.
“Anything can happen because it’s so long. Knowing what was coming up on the trail definitely helps,” he said. “I actually felt good most of the run. Doing a race of this magnitude is not possible without the help of my crew and pacers, Vern Parker, Mark Barichievich and Caroline Barichievich.”
For the better half of the first 50 miles, Barichievich and his co-runners dealt with more snow on the trail than usual. The wet conditions prompted Barichievich to change his socks four times.
“There were a solid nine miles of running in the snow,” he said.
Besides the abundance of snow, runners were required to cope with climbing 18,090 feet and descending 22,970 feet and adjusting to intense heat in the canyons before reaching Auburn.
“It was hot later in the afternoon in the canyons,” Barichievich said. “I just tried to stay overhydrated at the beginning, and that really helped out.
“There was no way I was going to stop. I had time in the bank, but it hurt to go downhill.”
Caroline Barichievich paced her husband over the final eight miles near Highway 49.
“His quads had shut down, and he couldn’t push like he normally does,” Caroline said. “My duties were to keep him alive as best as possible, and not have him fall off any trails.”
Barichievich’s only tumble occurred late in the race when his quads left him shuffling more than running. A tree root sent him sprawling to the ground but no less resolve to finish.
“He sat there and regrouped and said, ‘Just give me a second,'” Caroline recalled. “As he sat there I remember thinking, ‘That’s what it takes to finish a 100-miler.’ There are a lot of lows to get back from to get to the finish line.”
Once back on his feet, Barichievich was soon thrust into the spotlight at Placer High, where runners conclude the 100-miler with an exhilarating lap around the school’s track.
“You get on the track, and it’s amazing the energy you can find. You’ve been going so slow for so long, then all of sudden you can run the last 200 yards with some pep,” he said.
Caroline said that no matter how many times she sees her husband finish the race, it brings her to tears.
“It’s just an amazing feat what these runners do,” said Caroline, who will compete in the Tahoe Rim Trail 50-miler on July 17. “To run 100 miles is an amazing feat of willpower, not only physical but mental challenges to get through.”
Geoff Roes of Douglas, Alaska, was the first to finish the race in 15:07:04.